New York Rangers, Nashville Predators, Jaromir Jagr among free-agency winners and losers

During the first weekend of free agency, several high-profile players changed teams and a handful of teams landed impressive hauls that will likely make them Stanley Cup contenders next season. Here are some of the winners and losers from the start of free agency.


New York Rangers

It seemed likely that Kevin Shattenkirk -- who was considered the top defenseman on the free-agent market -- would get more term than the four-year, $26.6 million deal he got from the Rangers. Instead the New Rochelle, N.Y., native took something of a hometown discount to sign with New York.

"Here's a player who really wants to be here, and left money on the table," said Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton. "That sent a pretty strong message to us."

Shattenkirk, who had 56 points last season for the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues, should immediately help New York's power play and enhance the Rangers' puck-moving ability from the blue line. Also, his salary shouldn't hamper New York's ability to make more moves if it wants to do so.

"A four-year deal for a team that's contending for a Stanley Cup and has cap room?" an Eastern Conference scout said. "I'd make that deal for Shattenkirk all day long."

Dallas Stars

By signing two-way center Martin Hanzal to a three-year, $14.25 million contract, the Stars essentially finished off their summer checklist of improvements to become a better all-around team. Dallas also added a starting goaltender in Ben Bishop and a veteran defenseman in Marc Methot, whom they acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights. They all join returning coach Ken Hitchcock, who led the Stars to their Stanley Cup win in 1999.

"They're one of the teams that did a really good job," an Eastern Conference coach said of the Stars.

On Monday, the Stars signed forward Alexander Radulov to a five-year, $31.25 million contract. The 30-year-old has had a controversial NHL career, but his performance during a one-year, $5.75 million "show-me" contract with the Montreal Canadiens in 2016-17 got Radulov the multiyear NHL contract he wanted.

"Aggressive approach this offseason," a current Eastern Conference executive said of the Stars via text. "Should be an energized team, new coach new players, especially new goalie. Expect them to be good. Coach prepares his team very well and hasn't worn anyone out yet."

Patrick Marleau

Marleau, who turns 38 in September, signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The forward, who has spent his entire 19-year career with the San Jose Sharks, was also given a full no-movement clause by GM Lou Lamoriello. At the end of the deal Marleau will be 40 years old. Few players get an opportunity to play into that age on a multiyear deal.

The Eastern Conference coach didn't think that Marleau's age would be a factor, noting that the forward "can still skate." He also pointed out that potentially playing with center Auston Matthews won't hurt either. Last season, Marleau scored 27 goals for the Sharks.

"That's a really good signing," he said.

Nashville Predators

The Predators added two-way depth at center when they signed Nick Bonino -- who is coming off back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins -- to a four-year, $16.4 million deal. Plus, bringing back forward Scott Hartnell on a one-year, $1 million deal should add a level of scoring punch to their lower lines.

"Hartnell at a million dollars is a grand-slam value bet," a former Eastern Conference executive said. "Is Bonino a first-line center? No way. Is he a second-line center? Maybe, maybe not. But can you throw him behind [Ryan] Johansen and behind maybe Mike Fisher (if he doesn't retire) or [Calle] Jarnkrok, and is he way better than most teams' seventh or eighth forwards? For sure. I like that one too. And four million bucks [a year] isn't a ton."

The Predators also added to their blue line depth by trading for Alexei Emelin from the Vegas Golden Knights. The moves all reflect Nashville GM David Poile's philosophy of keeping players under a neat salary structure that doesn't go overboard.


Jaromir Jagr

The Panthers decided it was best to part ways with the 45-year-old winger, which put Jagr on the open market.

Heading into the offseason, Florida seemed like the only real fit for Jagr, who had found chemistry with linemates Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. It might be hard for Jagr to find a similarly suitable situation elsewhere.

"He's very effective with the two right linemates. Huberdeau and Barkov are big bodies [who can] protect the puck," the coach said. "Jagr needs someone to transport the puck, but once they get in the zone, he still has great skill and he's a big guy and he has the ability to still make plays. He's still effective."

Though Jagr's game might have slipped last season, when his point total dropped from 66 in 2015-16 to 46 in 2016-17, he's still seen as someone who's worthy of an NHL contract. But his options could be limited.

"Obviously your motor skills slow down when you get older, but he still knows the game. He still has a certain element of skill, size and strength," the scout said. "It has to be a perfect fit now ... where he can hide on that third-line spot, play power play, play somewhat minimal 5-on-5 minutes, but be a huge difference maker on the power play or in the last minute of the game when the goalie is pulled."

Long-term contracts for unrestricted free agents

Long-term, big-money contracts didn't go to players who hit the open market. Many actually went to guys who were slated to hit UFA status next summer instead.

Through the first weekend, Radulov's deal and the five-year contract the Montreal Canadiens gave defenseman Karl Alzner were the longest given to an unrestricted free agents.

The dearth of deals was the result of a so-so crop of UFAs, many teams locking up their core players before they hit the open market and a minimally increasing salary cap.

"We try to stay away from those five-, six-, seven-, eight-year deals right now and figure out where the cap is going as we move forward," Gorton said. "It didn't seem like the five-, six-, seven-year deals were out there for many teams. It was an interesting change in the market."